In Memoriam: Theodore Carter DeLaney Jr., 1943-2020

Theodore Carter Delaney, Jr, professor of history emeritus and former chair of the Africana Studies program at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, died on December 18. He was 77 years old.

Dr. Delanaey was a native of Lexington, Virginia, and attended a racially segregated high school. He turned down a scholarship to Morehouse College and instead worked as a gardener and waiter. In 1963, he was hired as a janitor at Washington and Lee. He later worked as a laboratory technician. In 1979, Delaney enrolled in his first class at the university and became a full-time student four years later. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in history in 1985 at the age of 42. He also had 15 undergraduate credits from Virginia Military Institute.

After graduating from Washington and Lee University, Delaney taught American history for three years at the Asheville School in North Carolina, before beginning his graduate studies. He taught at W&L from 1991 to 1993, and then at the State University of New York at Geneseo from 1993 to 1995. He returned to W&L as a full-time faculty member in 1995 after earning his Ph.D. in history from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Dr. Delaney taught courses on colonial North America, comparative slavery in the Western Hemisphere, African American history, civil rights, and gay and lesbian history. His popular Spring Term class about the civil rights movement took students on the path of the Freedom Riders through the South.

In 2005, Dr. DeLaney co-founded the Africana Studies program, which he directed from 2005 to 2007 and again from 2013 to 2017. He chaired the history department from 2007 to 2013. He was the first  Black department head at Washington and Lee University.

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